Christian influence in early Reggae/Ska/Dub Music

Akaky Akakievitch

Orthodox Catechumen
I was going to post this into the Christian Music thread but I wanted to share it as a thread of its own, so I can update it over time with potentially more gems from the early reggae/ska scene, which surprisingly has a pretty strong Christian ethos. I've struggled with maintaining musical tastes within an (Orthodox) Christian worldview, but I believe most of this genre doesn't cross the line, even though much of it was present during my history of toking tha 'erb, which I'm now rid of totally.

Back in the 60's and 70's, even into the 80's somewhat, there were not so many references to weed, girls, money and all the tropes of modern reggae music which tends to glorify material/worldy things. Modernity hadn't yet corrupted that generation of post-war Jamaica, still rooted in the Old World mentality. They portray themselves as much more faithful to God and traditional in their ethics. Modern reggae has lost much of that, although i think there are some revivals for the old sound here and there. There is highly likely someone out there infinitely more knowledgeable than me, so post below if I'm missing anything out or want to add some more modern suggestions.

I was obsessed with this early reggae genre a few years ago, and I think there are definitely some songs here which contributed towards bringing me closer to God, as they reference scripture and Christian teachings more often than one might think.

In the first song selection, "Forgive Them" by Johnny Osborne, check out these beautiful lyrics:

Just humble yourself and stand firm
In the Earth, my friend
And let your every thought be ever beautiful (Lord)
Jah gave us this world to live in (Live in, live in)
He gave us everything
But man was so greedy
He just can never be satisfied

Forgive them, Lord forgive them, they know not what they do (Oh, Lord)
Lord, forgive them (They know not what they do)

And there'll come a time when darkness when darkness covers the face of di Earth (Lord)
And you'll need a guiding hand to guide you through the darkest night
But man is so selfish, and he cannot satisfy (But)

Oh, forgive them, forgive them, Lord
They know not what they do (They know not what they do)
Oh, forgive them, forgive them, Lord
They know not what they do (Oh-oh, lord, I say)

Jah Lord is the master of Heaven and Earth
He will guide you along the way
Jah Lord is the master of Heaven
And Earth and he will guide you along the way

There are some hints of the heretical "Rastafarian" movement, with all the 'herbal sorcery' that comes with it, but we can still appreciate the artistic output nonetheless, as long as we don't idolise the 'erb like they did.

You're welcome to post some suggestions, provided they remain within the context of a Christian ethos, and are strictly ska/reggae/dub. Any era is fine but i find the earlier material better.

I hope you enjoy my selection. As the weather warms up, there's no better time for some roots rock reggae sound :cool:

[Also, I would say it is almost a pre-requisite that to begin listening to any of these songs, you get yourself a decent pair of headphones and/or some good speakers, because it's a crime against reggae music to eliminate the bass sound on any horrible tinny laptop or phone speakers ;)]

P.S I might be white on the outside, but I'm... you know :cool:

Akaky Akakievitch

Orthodox Catechumen
Here's s'more...

I like this one particularly, very useful in keeping the focus on trad women. Try finding a musician these days with lyrics like this:

Don't watch those pretty dress that they wear
Those Fancy Make Up all over their face
Those groovy diamonds that cover their necks
Those fancy handbags to match their dress

They will ro-ob and cheat you
They will make you want to cry
They will ro-o-ob you
They will ro-o-ob yo-o-u

Don't let them tell you any misty lies
It's just one of their old alibis
They will take you out for a ride
Then give you that same old fancy slide

They will ro-ob and cheat you
They will make you want to cry
They will ro-o-ob you
They will ro-o-ob yo-o-u

They will rob you!
They will cheat on you!

This one is more of a love song but it's got trad values:

Two tracks from Dennis Brown, 1st has a biblical theme, 2nd sounds like its inspired from Proverbs:

I'd heard good things about Koffee, a young female artist in Jamaica, and she's very talented, some of her songs are good. But in a recent song titled 'Lockdown' the lyrics were highly promiscuous and she denounced 'Matrimony'... alas. It seems that if you don't actively choose God these days, you end up in the hands of the evil one. I'm not sure what Jamaica was or is like, I can only guess but judging by the music/lyrics, it's become more worldy and less godly.

I found this one too, recorded in early 90's. This guy nearly made it big but passed away at 28 years old trying to save his mother from a burning house after an accident:


Akaky Akakievitch

Orthodox Catechumen
Maybe we can adopt this one for the Orthodox people, "Ism Schism" - with regards to all the other Christian denominations:

Old-school roots reggae:

I'd be interested to hear if anyone thinks the following song is inappropriate, or if I'm using secular logic to justify listening to it - one of the lyrics:

"I believe every word the rastaman say"

I don't agree of course, being honest: the rastaman is a heretic and they need to repent for their heresies (interesting how Bob Marley was baptised into Ethiopian Orthodox on his deathbed - I know Coptics + Eastern Orthodox are not in communion, but it's worth pointing this out) But their musical heritage is worth celebrating: